Trump, who was impeached for withholding nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine, said 'this deadly Ukraine situation would never have happened' if he were in office
- Donald Trump said Russia's invasion of Ukraine wouldn't have happened if he were still president.
- Trump was impeached in 2019 after freezing nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine.
Former US President Donald Trump, who was impeached for withholding nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine, said the country's current crisis "would never have happened" if he were still in office.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine early Thursday, with Russian troops swarming into the country from its northern, eastern, and southern borders. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a Thursday-evening address that 137 Ukrainians had died and 306 had been wounded as a result of the invasion.
Trump released a statement Thursday, saying, "If I were in Office, this deadly Ukraine situation would never have happened!"
Trump earlier this week praised Putin's justification for invading Ukraine as "genius" and "savvy."
"I went in yesterday, and there was a television screen, and I said, 'This is genius.' Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine — Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that's wonderful," Trump said when asked about the news. "I said, 'How smart is that?' And he's going to go in and be a peacekeeper."
His comments stood in contrast to those of US officials, who warned that Putin's recognition of two Kremlin-backed separatist regions in Ukraine was part of an effort to create a false pretext and invade the country.
Trump was impeached in 2019 on charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The articles of impeachment were related, in part, to Trump's efforts to strong-arm Zelensky into launching politically motivated investigations against the Bidens ahead of the 2020 election and withholding vital military aid while doing so.
In 2018, Trump again shocked American allies by eschewing years of US foreign policy and telling G7 leaders that the territory of Crimea was part of Russia. His remarks were especially jarring to the leaders of other member states given that it was Russia's decision to annex Crimea in 2014 that led to its expulsion from the G8.
But Trump told reporters before that year's G7 summit that he believed Russia should be admitted back into the alliance, and he also reportedly wondered aloud at the summit why world leaders sided with Ukraine over Russia.
Before Trump's statement Thursday, he made similar remarks during a Fox News interview. Just as the Russian offensive in Ukraine was beginning to unfold, he blamed the situation on the 2020 US election, which he called "rigged."
"Well, what went wrong was a rigged election and what went wrong is a candidate that shouldn't be there and a man that has no concept of what he's doing," Trump said on Fox News, adding that the invasion "never would have happened with us — had I been in office, not even thinkable. This would never have happened."